The Most Irritating Buzzwords in a Resume

Nancy Anderson
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When writing your resume, you want to communicate to a potential employer that you are a qualified, confident, enthusiastic person who is perfectly suited for the role. However, it is easy to turn off employers by using annoying jargon that doesn't mean much. Avoid the following resume buzzwords if you want to make a good impression next time you apply for a job.

The polling company Harris Poll conducted a survey of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the United States in 2014. These professionals come from a range of industries, but they all agree that certain resume buzzwords should be consigned to history.

At the top of the list of irritating resume buzzwords is "best of breed." Thirty-eight percent of hiring managers and human resource professionals hated this phrase, and for good reason. Like all the worst resume buzzwords, it communicates very little. Avoid using this buzzword unless you are applying to enter yourself in a dog show, as it is not appropriate for a professional resume.

"Go-getter" and "think outside of the box" are two phrases that have become so worn through overuse that over a quarter of hiring managers cringe as soon as they read them on a candidate's resume. If "thinking outside of the box" really is one of your core skills, you should be able to find a more original way of expressing yourself.

"Synergy" and "go-to person" were both described as irritating resume buzzwords by 22 percent of survey respondents. Close behind, with an irritation rating of 16 percent each, were "thought leadership," "value added" and "results-driven." Leave these resume buzzwords out of your job application if you want to get an interview.

Also ranked as irritating were the phrases "team player," "bottom line," "hard worker," "strategic thinker," "dynamic," "self-motivated," "detail-oriented," "proactive" and "track record." If any of these resume buzzwords currently appear on your resume, replace them with something more original to improve your job search prospects.

Writing an original and professional resume can be tough. The key is to be specific. You need to include details about what you actually did during every role you have held. If you led a major project, write it down. If you have in-depth knowledge of particular industry-related software applications, list them. Hiring managers don't want to hear the same irritating resume buzzwords over and over; they want to see what you actually have to offer to their organization.

Job seekers need to remember that hiring managers have to read hundreds of resumes, which can get boring. Make your resume stand out by restricting its length to one side, including tangible details about your experiences, clearly listing your skills and, above all, keeping irritating resume buzzwords out of your vocabulary.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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